robot alchemy

  • A:Did you know that NPI 'chicken' only occurs within the scope of negation? Otherwise it's just free range chicken!
  • B:Are there other Negative Poultry Items in the same class?
  • C:There's a bunch of Strong Negative Poultry Items, such as 'a red hen', 'cheep a wink', or of course 'give a cluck'. They're sometimes known as "organic NPIs" because they're only licensed in anti-additive contexts.

'A Perfect and Beautiful Machine': What Darwin's Theory of Evolution Reveals About Artificial Intelligence

What Darwin and Turing had both discovered, in their different ways, was the existence of competence without comprehension. This inverted the deeply plausible assumption that comprehension is in fact the source of all advanced competence. Why, after all, do we insist on sending our children to school, and why do we frown on the old-fashioned methods of rote learning? We expect our children’s growing competence to flow from their growing comprehension. The motto of modern education might be: “Comprehend in order to be competent.” For us members of H. sapiens, this is almost always the right way to look at, and strive for, competence. I suspect that this much-loved principle of education is one of the primary motivators of skepticism about both evolution and its cousin in Turing’s world, artificial intelligence. The very idea that mindless mechanicity can generate human-level — or divine level! — competence strikes many as philistine, repugnant, an insult to our minds, and the mind of God.

(Source: The Atlantic)

Gesture and language

"Gestures are processed in the same areas of the brain as speech and sign language such as the left inferior frontal gyrus (Broca’s area) and the posterior middle temporal gyrus, posterior superior temporal sulcus and superior temporal gyrus (Wernicke’s area).[2] It has been suggested that these parts of the brain originally supporting the pairing of gesture and meaning and then were adapted in human evolution “for the comparable pairing of sound and meaning as voluntary control over the vocal apparatus was established and spoken language evolved”.[2] As a result, it underlies both symbolic gesture and spoken language in the present human brain. Their common neurological basis also supports the idea that symbolic gesture and spoken language are two parts of a single fundamental semiotic system that underlies human discourse.[7]

"If you’d gone to a publisher in 1981 with a proposal for a science-fiction novel that consisted of a really clear and simple description of the world today, they’d have read your proposal and said, Well, it’s impossible. This is ridiculous. This doesn’t even make any sense. Granted, you have half a dozen powerful and really excellent plot drivers for that many science-fiction n­ovels, but you can’t have them all in one novel.

"Fossil fuels have been discovered to be destabilizing the planet’s climate, with possibly drastic consequences. There’s an epidemic, highly contagious, lethal sexual disease that destroys the human immune system, raging virtually uncontrolled throughout much of Africa. New York has been attacked by Islamist fundamentalists, who have destroyed the two tallest buildings in the city, and the United States in response has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

"You haven’t even gotten to the Internet. By the time you were telling about the Internet, they’d be showing you the door. It’s just too much science fiction."

-William Gibson in The Paris Review